Top 3 tech, startup and sustainability stories of the week, 10th-14th June, 2024

This week’s top 3 tech stories come Japan, USA and France

1-Japan aims at Apple and Google’s app stores

The Japanese parliament has passed a recent law improving competition in smartphone app stores. The new law prevents major tech companies like Apple and Google from blocking third-party companies from selling and operating apps on their platforms. I saw this story at Read Write and the legislation regulates Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems, along with their app stores and payment platforms, by prohibiting them from restricting the sale of apps and services that compete with those offered by the native platforms.

“The legislation seeks to stop monopolistic practices by dominant companies, forcing them to compete on pricing with smaller competitors, which is expected to benefit consumers and spur innovation,” the story said.

If the companies violate the new regulation, they will face a penalty of 20 per cent of the domestic revenue of the service, rising to 30 per cent if they continue their anti-competitive behaviors.

Japan aims at Apple and Google’s app stores

2- Wells Fargo fired employees due to “simulation of keyboard activity”

Wells Fargo, the US bank, fired over a dozen bank employees following an investigation into claims of faking work activity on their computers last month. I read this story at Ars Technica and a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) search conducted by Ars Technica revealed that the fired employees of the firm’s wealth and investment management division were “discharged after review of allegations involving simulation of keyboard activity creating impression of active work.”

It isn’t  known exactly what technique(s) the fired employees used to simulate keyboard activity, but several options exist for would-be work-shirkers. Those options include software that simulates keyboard presses  and physical devices sold on e-commerce sites that use a motor or solenoid and a small arm to push a real keyboard at random intervals, the story added. To counter corporate surveillance or assist with preventing a computer from going to sleep, it can be found devices designed to mimic mouse movement, commonly known as “mouse jigglers.”

Wells Fargo fired employees due to “simulation of keyboard activity” (Photo: Getty Images)

3- Mistral.AI raises $640 million, valued at $6 billlion

Mistral.AI, the Paris-based AI startup, announced it raised $640 million series B funding in a combination of debt and equity, bringing its valuation to around $6 billion.

“I am delighted to see new and existing investors renew their confidence in our business and provide new support for its expansion. This new round puts us in a unique position to push the frontier of AI and bring state-of-the-art technology to everyone’s hands. It guarantees the company’s continued independence, which remains fully under the founders’ control,” Arthur Mensch, co-founder and CEO of Mistral, said in a statement provided to VentureBeat.

The company revealed it plans to use the investment to build more computing capacity as well as increase the team size across departments to scale commercialization efforts internationally, plus better take on rivals in the global AI race, including OpenAI and Anthropic. (I have a story about Turkish startup ecosystem here )

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